Saturday, February 19, 2011

2010 Fly-In Recap

We apologize for taking so long to get back into the groove of NORDO News newsletters. During the past few years, our “winter break” has gone from two weeks to four months and we hope you understand. So now, on with the news.
Last year’s fly-in was a great success. Thankfully, despite harsh winds and questionable weather elsewhere, a large percentage of our airport family turned showed up and made it yet another enjoyable weekend of aviation. Thanks to all of you for fighting the wind to be here. Your attendance saved the event.
Yep, that’s true. Ginger and I had both decided to make the 2010 event the last one. We were beat up, used up, and fed up. The things that you do to put on a fly-in are beyond the realm of believability unless you’ve done it yourself. And then when things go well, it’s easy to become a slave to it. That’s what had happened to us.
The Thursday of the fly-in, I was prepared to tell everyone on Friday night, during dinner, that this would be the last one. Then planes started to arrive. One by one, flying machines brought more of our friends to the party. And, with each new name on the list, I felt the pressure building for the announcement.
Although I don’t remember telling anyone I was going to do this, I believe people could see it on our faces as most asked cautiously if this was it. Well, it was. And yet, by the time dinner came round on Friday night, somehow the notion of ending it had gone. In its place though was a new attitude that would see it through, albeit with slightly revised methods.
After a great flock of aircraft attends your event, over 375 in case you’re wondering, it’s just damn near impossible to let such a great group of people down. So, when all was said and done, we put our thoughts on the table. After a lot of ideas, both of us agreed to do it but ONLY IF we could find people to assume the responsibility of several areas of the event. We could no longer handle being slave to the machine.  Furthermore, we had to find someone to handle all the food and everything to do with it. And finally, we had to decide what we would do with the airport long term, meaning thirty years or more down the road. In the end, we got two of the three and are close to some decisions on the other.
Currently, we have had some wonderful people step up to take responsibility for parts of the event. A few more would be helpful though. We also found a food concession company that will be handling all the food; Friday lunch through Sunday breakfast. This company will be able to take credit cards, will not require RSVPs for dinner on Friday night, and will not require you to pre-buy tickets for meals.  This frees us up from the fear of another devastating loss like the one in 2009 and gives us back a huge amount of pre-planning time that was always committed to the food supply and the logistics of making it happen. It also frees up our guests who often had to worry about having cash on hand or needing to RSVP.  The arrangement that we've made with this company is that they will provide quality food at a reasonable price and in return, we are not charging them anything to be here.

But what about the fly-in, how did it go in 2010?  Well, Friday was an interesting day. The wind was crazy to start and got worse as the day went on. By Friday evening, the preferred spots on the airport all included good views of the landing area from which could be heard random eruptions from those on the ground; “oh, oooh, ooooh no, OUCH” and “oh boy, watch out, YAAAAYYYY" come to mind.  The wind was truly having its way with our pilots and for most it appeared they were along for the ride.
One guy who showed up Friday in an Taylorcraft ended up breaking a bungee. Due to the winds it was not unexpected but we really wanted to take care of this him because he had just flown all the way from Maine. By the way, Mr. Taylorcraft Driver, thanks for that effort. I really hope you enjoyed yourself and found it worth your trip. But back to the bungee.
Through the years we have added more and more capabilities or services to our events and one of these is a maintenance crew. These guys volunteer their time and efforts to help the attendees where needed .  Over the past few events, they have really kicked some butt and helped a lot of people. During the fly-in, they assessed the problem, ordered a bungee overnight, borrowed a bungee tool from another airport family member, received the bungee during the fly-in on Saturday, and had the guy ready to go by the end of the day. They really do great work and we can’t thank them enough for it. Did I mention that on top of that they are really nice guys?
Friday night, the wind finally died down and we all had a great meal, listened to some music,  and watched a movie on the hangar wall.
When the sun started to rise on Saturday, planes were already arriving. I don’t know where these birds were roosting but, with each passing year, as long as there isn’t fog, some of these folks are landing close to the first light of day. This sometimes catches us by surprise but ultimately it helps as it spreads out the arrivals. Often though there is a slow spot after the first responders but this year was an exception.  They just seemed to come at a steady pace all day long.
Attendance was great. Several people we’ve invited for years on end finally made it, many that we’d never met showed up for their first time, and the rest of the collection consisted of a wonderful mix of regulars; people and planes. We truly have a great bunch of people as friends and seeing them all here in their seaplanes, homebuilts, helicopters, certified composites, bush planes, warbirds, metal classics, and antiques really drives that home to everyone who sees it.
That night a great time was had with another movie and pizza. And then on Sunday morning people bugged out with the first light of day. Although the weather was good here, it was questionable where many of them were from, and they were doing their best to beat it home.
When all was said and done, well over 375 planes and 2000 people had attended, and we were determined to do it all over again - with some help throughout the year.


john mitchell said...

Glad you are doing it again, you are an asset to aviation. hohn

Ken & Terri said...

Rich & Ginger,
You two always make it look so easy. We can only guess how much work you really do. But, know that there are thousands of us out here that appreciate you. All you are and all you do.